Wednesday 26 June 2013

Field work in central Ontario

It has been a jam-packed few weeks to say the least. Between morning bird surveys, evening Whip-poor-will surveys, and driving between our sites (Wawa, Gowganda, Timmins, Mattawa, Sudbury, North Bay, etc), there hasn't been much time for anything else really. However I have taken my camera with me occasionally and snapped the odd photo here or there.

Butterflies are a relatively recent interest of mine and some diversity is showing up in northern Ontario. Most of the more interesting species will be in the next post, but here are a few common butterflies.

In southern Ontario, Northern Crescents are one of the more common species this time of year. Turns out that the same can be said for central Ontario. Everywhere I go I run into these! The odd Tawny Crescent here and there has been nice as well. I think I photographed one, but that will be in the next post.

Northern Crescent

The same can be said for the Little Wood-satyr. Common everywhere! This is the most abundant species on most of our sites right now.

Little Wood-satyr

Butterflies aren't the only interesting things we have been seeing of course. Herps are always a priority of mine (well, except for the height of bird migration!) and we've come across some interesting things - Blanding's Turtles probably being the main highlight, right at the northern extent of their range. I've also came across some Northern Ringneck Snakes north of North Bay. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me that day, so this iPhone photo will have to do.

Northern Ringneck Snake

Duskywings are all over the place right now in some areas. I don't have a butterfly guide on me and I am admittedly a bit rusty when it comes to duskywings. I think this is a Juvenal's - someone please correct me if I'm wrong!

Juvenal's Duskywing

Birds are the main priority for me since I have a certain number of point counts I have to complete on each site. Doing point counts is a bit different than "regular" birding. About 95% (or higher) of it is birding by ear - in fact most days I don't even take binoculars with me into the woods. For one, it is way easier to detect species by song. Everything is singing first thing in the morning, and unless I pish or call a bird in, chances are I will not see it anyways! Second, the mosquitoes and other various friendly insects are ferocious on most of our sites. There is no way I am going in the woods without wearing full bug apparel, including rain pants, a bug jacket, and latex gloves! Using binoculars is a bit useless since it is hard to see through a bug jacket in the darkest parts of the woods. And third, rarely are my point count locations near trails or roads - a lot of bushwacking is involved! I don't really want to get my binoculars all scratched up. So because of that, while I may get 50 or 60 species on a site, I usually don't see more than 10 or 20 of them.

Some of the "heard only" highlights so far while at work include Connecticut Warbler (Timmins), Golden-winged Warbler (Sudbury), Great Crested Flycatcher (Wawa), Boreal Owl (Wawa), Northern Saw-whet Owl (Mattawa), and quite a few more. Certain species which are sometimes considered semi-rare in migration in southern Ontario are actually quite common up here. Some examples include Mourning Warbler, and Philadelphia Vireo. There are a few rarer species which I have actually seen instead of just heard. These include an American Three-toed Woodpecker north of Wawa and a Green Heron north of North Bay. Here is a photo of the most abundant, or at least the most easily seen, raptor in central Ontario. This is an immature Broad-winged Hawk.

Broad-winged Hawk

I'll finish up with a butterfly that probably faces the highest road mortality out of any species in Ontario. Any guesses?

If you guessed Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, you win. I actually have no road mortality data, so I could easily be wrong. But it seems like every time I drive on a highway in this part of Ontario in June, I take out at least a dozen.

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail


Alan Wormington said...

That far north, any dusky-wing with the white spots on the forewing is going to be Juvenal's Dusky-Wing. The only exception might be Columbine Dusky-Wing, but they are tiny and relatively local in distribution.

Ken Burrell said...

I would have thought White Admiral would be a high road mortality victim...!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alan.

Anonymous said...

Seems logical. Maybe I'll do an official survey of our rental's grill after the next drive and see what the proportions of various species are!

Tyler said...

White Admiral is definitely number one in southern Algoma